In his last secretary’s report, outgoing county secretary Sean Feeney paraphrases a quote from Charles Dickens’ 1859 novel A Tale of Two Cities saying, “I have enjoyed the best of times and the worst of times,” in his opening gambit, which goes on to set out the challenges he sees coming for the association as a whole. The returning spectre of emigration as a threat to the association is something he sees becoming a major factor. “The years ahead will be challenging for the association as a new wave of emigration threatens our resilience once again. The spectre of mass unemployment and the inexperience of our young to cope with a less affluent society is a cause of concern.” But he believes the association will be able to pull through as it has in the past, saying: “The GAA has survived greater challenges in the past and I have no doubt it will survive this once again.”
Progress on the field
One the football side of things Feeney praised the strides that the Mayo senior team have made this year, stating: “More work needs to be done, but we are definitely on the right track.” While on the issue of the inter-county junior team, he does not want it to be used as a B team for the senior side, saying: “I still believe that the competition should be a junior competition not a second string senior outfit.” This stance will be put to the test at next Monday night’s county convention where a motion from Tourmakeady has proposed: “All players are eligible to participate in inter-county junior competition expect those who have played in an senior inter-county championship game in the current year or, unless regraded, in the previous year.” That motion itself will need changes to be made by national central council if passed.
The u21 grade comes in for special mention from Feeney at both inter-county and club level. In relation to the Mayo u21 side, while talking about a disappointing year, he fingers the amount of football that some players have to play during the spring saying: “The problem is that at this time of year a lot of players are under pressure from college and senior management, and a number of players get an overdose of football in a short period of time, this will have to be addressed.” In relation to the club u21 championship Feeney points out that the B and C competitions were run off to schedule, but problems arose in the A grade, he reasons: “The u21 competition is one of the most difficult ones to run because of the overlap between senior and minor players,” and “the A competition was held up because of a number of senior inter-county players.”
A challenging future
As to what the future holds for Mayo GAA, Feeney addresses the big issue on so many people’s minds for past number of weeks and months. “The biggest challenge facing the county committee over the next few years will be the servicing of the loans on McHale Park. This will not be done by the few at the top table and the 50 odd members of the board who will have to put their shoulders to the wheel. We can make things easier if we sell our season tickets and continue to support the county draw which is beneficial to both the county and club.” He also suggests keeping delegates in line by reminding them that they have the decision making power. “County board delegates must remember that their first allegiance is to the board as they are part of the decision making process.” Feeney concludes his report by thanking all those who has worked with him since he was first elected secretary in 1995, saying in his conclusion, “To the clubs I say thank you for your support ever since 1995. I have made lots of friends over the period and hopefully very few enemies.”
Who will fill Feeney’s shoes
The hustings are well and truly under way as the contest to fill the seat left vacated by the retiring Feeney is down for decision on Monday night. Three names are in the hat for the hot seat. Bonniconlon’s Vincent Neary and Tourmkeady’s Kevin O’Toole will be the two favourites battling it out alongside Burrishoole’s Margaret O’Malley. Feeney himself is also up for election as he has been put forward for the role as central council delegate where he will be going up against the incumbent delegate Jerry Henry from Castlebar Mitchels.
Motions for debate
A total of 18 motions are down for Monday’s convention, they include one from Burrishoole calling for the reintroduction and organisation of the inter-county masters’ championships next year. The motion from Tourmakeady in relation to eligibility for the inter-county junior championships. The west Mayo Gaeltacht club has also proposed an interesting motion in regard to sponsorship by companies which are principally involved in supplying alcohol. This motion asks that the company’s branding not be allowed appear on any replica clothing or merchandise which is marked or labelled for children u16, and that no such company should be allowed to sponsor a competition for players under the age of 21.
South Mayo club Garrymore has a motion calling for the scrapping of the divisional boards, because they “no longer have a purpose” according to the motion.
The same club also has a motion in relation to the championship, which calls for every side in the Mayo senior and intermediate championships to get one home game, one away game, and the third game to be played at a neutral venue. The amalgamated Hollymount and Carramore have put forward the proposal that when it comes to promotion and relegation from senior, intermediate, and junior championships the county board will operate a two up two down system, which would see two sides being relegated from senior football to be replaced by the finalists from the intermediate championship, the same situation applying in the intermediate championships with two sides going down and both junior finalists coming up. Kilmaine has a motion calling for players not in the first 24 of the county minor panel to be released back to their clubs from the minor panel from next year on.
One of the more interesting motions comes from Tourmakeady under the sub heading of rules of play, where they want to see players be allowed to kick a sideline kick from the ground, if they are taking it from within the 45m line of the goal they are attacking, to allow more players have a go at scoring from there.
Where does all the money go ?
Ahead of next week’s county convention the audited financial statement for the year was released to the clubs across the county earlier this week. The accounts show that income has gone up from €1,494,301 in 2010 to €1,578,542 this year, an increase of €84,241 in 12 months. The costs of running the county board though have also gone up from €1,378,345 to €1,469,779, an increase of €9,1434. This leaves the county board spending €7,193 more that taken in this year.
The commercial income of the county board through sponsorship has seen a big jump in the past 12 months, going from €155,222 in 2010 to 240,200 this year, an increase of €84,978 on the figure 12 months previously. As for footfall through the turnstiles, this year €201,142 was paid into the various county championship games throughout the county during the year, which is more than four times the amount that Mayo received from home games against Kerry, Cork, Armagh, and Down in the National Football League, with only €49,013 in income coming in from Mayo’s share of those gates, with other championship games held in McHale Park bringing in €58,436 and €6,128 in gate receipts for the National Hurling League.
The various fundraising efforts carried out throughout the year saw €493,910 being raised, a increase of just over €11,000 from 2010. The supporters’ club at home dropped in revenue with €22,275 raised down from €30,000 last year. The Dublin supporters club fund-raising jumped from €7,900 in 2010 to €15,711 this year, while c€10,000 has been put in the accounts for the London supporters’ club, which was launched last week. The mainstay of the fundraising for many years, the county board draw has seen its subscriptions drop by over €4,000, down from €224,423 in 2010 to €218,354 this year. Under the title of sundry creditors, a figure of €1,615,285 has been shown to be paid to McHale Park creditors in 2010 in the accounts.
The running costs of the senior team this year were €350,085, up from €298,964 in 2010, the increase of costs can be put down to the senior team having a very successful year, reaching the All Ireland semi-final, compared to the 2010 campaign. The breakdown in costs for the senior team has €87,317 spent on catering, €205,366 on travelling, €515 on sportswear, and €56,887 on medical expenses.
The u21 team, who were knocked out at the first stage of the championship by Roscommon, cost €27,537 this year, with €9,805 on catering, €14,731 on travelling, and €3,001 on medical expenses, with the minor side’s bill coming in to a total of €42,139. That figure breaks down to €18,578 on catering, €17,959 on travelling, €330 on sportswear, and €5,272 on medical expenses. The hurling bill for the year was €106,480.